Plastic Avoidance: Part 3

Real Food

Once you’ve accepted that you can’t always get organic, it’s not difficult to avoid plastic.  If you can’t find enough loose produce at your usual supermarket, find out if there’s a good old fashioned market in your town.  We’ve found one which is just a big fruit and veg stall in the town centre, once or twice a week.  The guys who run it are really friendly, they sell quality seasonal fruit and vegetables, provide small (compostable) paper bags to fill, and it’s very good value for money – much better even than the supermarkets.  Just take your own shopping bags and get them to weigh as much as you need.  We bought a big 12.5 kg sack of Desiree potatoes from them for just £5!

We also have a health food shop not too far away which sells a small selection of loose organic produce which is great although we can’t get there every week.

Or you might be able to find a local organic produce grower who operates a veg box scheme whereby you order a weekly veg box from them and they deliver it to your door.  They will be happy to leave the box in a designated safe place if you’re going to be out and you’ll get a great selection of whatever is in season. The soil Association will help you find a scheme near you 🙂

As for other necessary staples – you can probably get most of them in glass jars or tins.  We used to buy lentils, sultanas, pasta, tofu, cereal etc etc in plastic packets because we thought we couldn’t avoid it, but now we’re getting our lentils in tins and we’ll manage without cereal, pasta and dried fruit.  We buy organic oats in paper bags and I’ll mix them with fresh fruit for my breakfast instead of sultanas.  If we need tofu we’ll get it in tetra paks.  I know tetra paks are coated in plastic so I’m not happy with that idea but it seems to be the best option we’ve got at this point.  The cartons are 75% paperboard, according to their website, the plastic on them is very very thin, much less plastic than an actual plastic container, and tetra paks are completely recyclable.

*Since writing this I have discovered the Zero Waste Club – a wonderful mail order company in London from whom you can order organic dried fruit, nuts, grains, pasta, sugar, pulses, seeds, cocoa, popcorn, herbs and spices and more! You order it by weight and they mail it to you wrapped in paper bags.  See Plastic Avoidance: Part 7.

Things like vinegar, ketchup and oil are easy to get in glass bottles, although sadly I don’t think there’s any way of avoiding the plastic pouring spout they put in the oil bottles.  But I always think, even if everything is not as perfect as you’d like it to be, the world would be a better place if everyone at least did this.  If the only plastic going into someone’s recycling, or landfill, was a couple of plastic pouring spouts and a few tetra paks every fortnight, that would be pretty good going.  Same goes for things like cocoa powder and gravy granules – they come in cardboard tubs with metal bottoms and a plastic lid.  Sometimes mostly plastic-free is the best you can do.

Lots of other staples that have always been wrapped in paper, still are.  You can get bread in paper bags from a bakery, or you can make your own.  I haven’t been able to buy salt without plastic wrapping but if you buy things with salt already added – like the stock cubes above (paper-wrapped in a cardboard box) – then you can manage without it.Something else to be aware of is that tea bags (which are supposed to be compostable) are actually made of 20% plastic.  See here for a great post with more details about that and sign this petition aimed at getting Unilever to remove all plastic from their tea bags.  Be aware though, it’s not just Unilever that does it, this is common practice.  The only way to be sure you’re not getting plastic is to buy loose tea leaves 🙂 And if you check this out you’ll see that there are a lot more uses for tea leaves than just a relaxing drink.

Need a meal in a hurry?  Well, you can’t buy hash browns or oven chips anymore, but look what you can buy!  There are all sorts of delicious and convenient ready-prepared vegan goodies in cardboard containers in the freezer section of your supermarket.

So whadaya need plastic for?

Not much!

ps I’ve just found out you can even buy plastic-free crisps 😀

Click for PLASTIC AVOIDANCE parts twofourfive,  six and seven

Plastic Avoidance: Part Two

Sweet Treats

Doing without plastic doesn’t have to mean doing without.

Let’s get our priorities straight and start with chocolate 😀

The chocolates pictured above tick all the right boxes:

1.  They’re vegan

2.   They’re fair trade (included on the ethical chocolate list)

3.  They’re organic

and

4.  They’re wrapped the old-fashioned way: in foil and paper 😀

  • Since I wrote this, Vivani have replaced the aluminium foil in their chocolate wrappers with a new clear film called natureflex foil.  It is a completely sustainable film made on the basis of wood fibre which is fully compostable (in good composting conditions approximately within 40 days).

In fact, as far as we can tell, there is only one downside to these particular chocolates – they don’t last long! 😉

Vivani is new to us and we’re so glad we found them.  Their chocolate is absolutely gorgeous – I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate over the years and I think I can confidently say that this is the best ever!  My favourite is the White Nougat Crisp, no, the Mandel Orange Rice Choc, no no, it’s the Crispy Corn Flakes Rice Choc …. no, I can’t choose between them, their entire vegan range is completely amazing (be aware that sadly not all their products are vegan, but a lot of them are).  Check out their whole range here 🙂

The Ombars are gorgeous too – especially for those who like their chocolate rich and dark and nutritious, coz it’s raw 🙂 Everything is wonderfully vegan and look what they say about their packaging:

“Like you, we believe in recycling.  So we wrap our bars in recyclable aluminium foil and paper, and ship them in fully-recyclable cardboard. Did you know our button bags are fully compostable? Just throw them in your compost bin with vegetable peelings – within a few weeks the bag will have completely broken down and returned to nature.” (see their FAQs)

We got all these treats from our local Health Food Shop, and we’ve seen Ombars in Waitrose, but if you can’t find them near you, you can buy Ombars online here and Vivani lists their worldwide stockists here 🙂 And of course you can probably find them on Amazon 😉

Fingers crossed whoever mails them to you doesn’t use plastic 😮

But, if you’re having trouble getting hold of those, why not pick up a big bar of vegan, organic, fair trade cooking chocolate from the supermarket?  Good ole Green & Black’s Dark Cooking chocolate is also only wrapped in foil and paper and it’s absolutely delicious in home baked chocolate chip cookies 😀

Speaking of baking, if you want more than just chocolate in your plastic-free sweet treat artillery you can make cakes and biscuits yourself.  Vegan recipes use oil instead of margarine, which can be bought organic in glass bottles; flour comes in paper bags and sugar … well, I have in recent years felt compelled to buy sugar in plastic bags because I wanted organic fair trade.  However, in prioritising plastic avoidance, I have discovered that I can buy paper-wrapped sugar that is pretty ethical 🙂  I had mistakenly believed that all white sugar had been whitened with bone-char.  However, it seems that’s just cane sugar, not sugar beet.  Sugar from sugar beet is vegan!

(NB: Since writing this I have discovered I can buy organic fair trade sugar without plastic wrapping from the Zero Waste Club 🙂 )

Silver Spoon proudly state their commitment to eco-friendliness on their packets:

“Sustainability is nothing new to us – we’ve been working on it for 30 years.  Our sugar beet is homegrown and our bags are recyclable, made with paper from certified forests.  We send nothing to landfill and our excess production energy helps to power British homes.”

 They work directly with 1200 British farmers in East Anglia who grow the beets which are then transported just a short distance to the factory in Bury St Edmunds (also in East Anglia 😀 )

Not bad eh?

So far so plastic-free good.

Click for PLASTIC AVOIDANCE parts three, four, five , six and seven

Plastic Avoidance: Part One

We have for many years tried to keep our plastic consumption to a minimum but have found it very difficult when also trying to incorporate other ethics into our shopping habits.  For example – it’s pretty easy to buy loose, unpackaged fruit and vegetables if you take your own bags to the market with you, but if you want organic produce, it’s usually wrapped in plastic.

We always recycled it of course but we know that a plastic food container, because of its low melting point, cannot be recycled into another plastic food container.  It can really only be downcycled into things like plastic lumber which cannot be recycled again.  Glass, paper and tin cans on the other hand, can be recycled ad infinitum.  Bottles will become bottles again and again; drinks cans and baked beans tins will become cans and tins again and again; paper can be recycled again and again, and eventually composted.

 

So, even though we were recycling, we felt very bad about the plastic in our bins.  Add to that the worry that maybe the plastic being collected by the council recycling lorry wasn’t even being recycled and … well, let me explain:

I had an email a couple of weeks ago from Avaaz campaigning group saying that studies had shown that most (about 80%) of the plastic in the ocean gyres was coming from rivers in Asia and Africa.  Finding it very hard to believe that people in Asia and Africa consume more plastic than people in Europe and America, I was reminded of an email conversation I’d had with someone at Waitrose supermarket.  They told me that there was no facility to recycle their plastic bags in this country so they sent them to Asia for recycling.

Well – if Waitrose does it, you can bet a lot of other companies do it too, maybe even councils?  And if the UK sends plastic to Asia for recycling, you can bet other countries do too.  If the same is happening in Africa that would explain why 80% of the plastic in the oceans arrives there from those continents.  The plastic that I diligently put out for recycling might be ending up in the ocean!

It’s all speculation but it makes a lot of sense and the only way I can be sure that I’m not part of the problem is to take control of it myself.

We now realise that the good done for the Earth in growing organic, is compromised if they wrap the organic produce in plastic.  Plastic not only litters and pollutes when it’s disposed of, the very production of it is toxic since it is (usually) made from oil.

So we’re not going to pay in to that any more.

We have to prioritise plastic avoidance and hopefully these ethical companies will respond with ethical packaging.  In the meantime, we’ll show you our plastic avoidance tactics.

Starting tomorrow 😀

See all our Plastic Avoidance Tactics here

Everything was tidy except Mr Beardsley’s desk

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 15 continues from yesterday:

The chairs were turned upside down on the desks; the bins were empty and the paint pots were washed up and stacked on the draining board.  Everything except Mr Beardsley’s desk was swept and dusted and tidy.

Mr Beardsley’s desk was always a mess – he said it was the only way he knew where to find anything.  Luke decided to see if there was anything worth finding.  There were post-it notes, pencils, pens, two coffee mugs, a pencil sharpener, a stopwatch, a calculator – a calculator?!

“One rule for them, another rule for us!” thought Luke.

There were two piles of exercise books – blue maths ones and yellow history ones.  Luke sought out his own for a sneak preview of his grades.

“He hasn’t even marked ’em yet!” he grumbled, exasperated, “what’s the point of makin’ us hand ’em in on Friday if you’re not gonna mark ’em ’til next week?!”

There was nothing else of interest on top of the desk so Luke tried the drawer.  It was unlocked.

“Aha!”  He lifted out a large hardback diary, “let’s see what you’re gonna make us do next week.”

He dropped the dog-eared book onto the desk and opened it to the first week of December.

Monday was left blank so Luke, cleverly imitating Mr Beardsley’s handwriting, wrote:

On the Tuesday page was a barely legible scribble which seemed promising:

The Wednesday page foretold a spelling test and a fire drill.

The Thursday page confirmed what Luke already knew: there would be a full dress rehearsal of the Christmas concert in front of the rest of the school and the senior citizens from the village. He smiled, knowing that meant no lessons.

The Friday page contained a still more glorious statement:

  • “Yo ho there! Ebenezer!”

Luke flinched at Kenny’s very loud portrayal of Fezziwig and knocked over one of the mugs which was still a quarter full of cold coffee. Thankfully, his reflexes were second to none and in slamming the diary shut he ensured the rest of the desk stayed more or less dry. He carefully placed the book back where he’d found it and rejoined his fellow Thespians.

***

“Will you check on Curly ‘n’ Squirt for me after school?” Luke asked Joe on Monday afternoon as the credits rolled at the end of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

“Yeah, why? Another rehearsal?”

“Yeah. I’ll be glad when it’s over an’ done with.”

“Not long now.”

“Thank goodness!” said Luke with relief, “I think it was a mean trick them tellin’ us we can be in the play without tellin’ us we wunt be doin’ the practices in lesson time.”

“It was,” Joe agreed, having had to give up a lot of his own free time to paint the scenery.

Mr Beardsley switched on the lights and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.

“Wakey wakey everybody, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. It’s nearly half past three, so let me just remind you to bring your Christmas shopping money tomorrow. Full school uniform is compulsory – we don’t want to lose anybody.”

The bell rang loud and long, precipitating a riot of excited voices and chair legs scraping the floor.

“Exit quietly please,” he requested, “see you tomorrow.”

“I haven’t got any money,” said Joe to Luke confidentially.

“Me neither,” Luke replied, “but that doesn’t matter. It’ll still be good to get out of school for a few hours.”

Luke and Joe went their separate ways.

“See ya.”

“See ya.”

***

Luke made himself comfortable in the middle of the row of chairs at the back of the hall. He put his bag on the chair to his left, his coat on the chair to his right and his feet on the chair in front of him. He took out his reading book and his notebook, popped his gobstopper back in his mouth and, keeping one ear open for the approach of his cue, read.

  • “Your reclamation, then. Take heed! Rise and walk with me!”

After reading page 71 he wrote:

After reading page 78 he wrote:

After re-reading page 69 he wrote:

  • “Remove me! I cannot bear it!”

  • “I told you these were the shadows of the things that have been. That they are what they are do not blame me!”

After reading page 80 he wrote:

  • “… but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Luke swiftly returned his books and his gobstopper to his bag and hurried to stage left. It was time for the Third Spirit.

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See you Monday for the next instalment 😉

But if you don’t want to wait, you can read the whole of chapter 15 now 😀

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Quick! Sign This! Save the World from Plastic Bottles!

Every day 16 MILLION plastic bottles go un-recycled in the UK.

It’s a plague of plastic that’s choking our rivers and suffocating the ocean — it’s even in our drinking water! But finally there’s hope.

The Environment Secretary is considering a revolutionary plan to give people a financial incentive to recycle. It’s a complete no-brainer, but industry lobbyists and even supermarkets are fighting back, hard — and there’s just four days left in the consultation.

To drown them out we need a tidal wave of public support to flood the consultation — click to add your name and then share this with everyone, we have four days to make it massive:

Secretary Gove: End the Plastic Plague Now!

The plan is super simple: a small deposit is paid with every plastic bottle, which you get back when you recycle the bottle. In places like Germany and Denmark this same plan has taken recycling rates to over 90%.

More recycling means new plastic production would plummet. We’d use less oil, our beaches, birds, and brooks could breath again, AND our councils would actually save money from lower garbage collection and landfill costs. Complete no-brainer.

There’s no time to waste — every minute another 10,000 bottles go un-recycled. With just four days left, let’s make sure the Minister can’t back down now. Add your name and then tell everyone:

Secretary Gove: End the Plastic Plague Now!

In the wild, a single plastic bottle can take 450 years to break down. Winning this would be a victory felt for centuries. Our great, great, great, great grandchildren will walk on their beaches, birds circling overhead as the waves roll in, smiling back at us. Let’s make this happen now, for us, for them, and for our world.

https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/plastic_pollution_uk_loc/?cmzEIlb

The End?

vegan fairy tale

vegan fairy tale

vegan fairy tale

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Oh dear, it’s not looking good for planet Earth and all its inhabitants.  If you’d like to try to help the bewitched break the spell you could do as Maud suggests and share this story far and wide.  The children of non-vegan parents who are caught up in the spell could be helped to snap out of it if they found this book in their library – it’s worth a try, isn’t it?

The colour version, with Beatrice Wilberforce’s illustrations, is only £3.90

Wicked Witch

and Maud’s original Wicked Wicked Witch and the Ruinous Manipulation, being entirely black and white, is only £2.80.

cover-reduced-for-website

And, by the way, it’s surprisingly fun how easy it is to make a book look like a real bona fide library book with simple, easily edited, or not, photocopies stuck on the first page.

img199

and maybe even one of those removable plastic book jackets they often have, which come in different sizes and are often on discarded library books 🙂

It’s just harmless fun 😉

Have a good weekend 😀

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vegan fairy tale, vegan story, vegan children’s story, vegan, vegetarian, environment, wicked witch, global warming, animals, animal rights